We all find ourselves in difficult life situations at times. For instance, returning from a long trip you may discover that you cannot open the lock to your house or apartment. You may have lost your key or a mechanical fault in the lock has completely blocked it. What can you do to solve the problem? Call a local locksmith, of course. All of a sudden your remember that you have not bothered to search for any locksmith service in your area. So, the contact list in your smart phone contains no number of a specialist who could help you now. All you can do is go online, randomly select a locksmith shop nearby, and call it. That is when you may get into trouble, because instead of a legitimate locksmith you may have to deal with a scammer. To avoid that, you can watch for some signs indicating that you have called a con artist instead of a real professional. Here are five most conspicuous of them.
1. A fraudulent locksmith service offers cheap deals, gives no rough estimates, and has no company name
You can spot that something is wrong even before the van with a locksmith actually arrives at your address. Fraudulent locksmiths often use dispatcher services for receiving phone calls from their potential victims. Dispatchers at call-centers have very limited knowledge about the subject and can’t answer even simple questions. When they take your call, they normally say “Locksmith” instead of giving the official name of the firm. They also refuse to give clients even a rough estimate of how much the work will cost. Instead, they say that the technician has to see the lock first. It is true that the work may involve a number of operations and the use of various materials. So, the total price will be known only after the problem has been fixed. That said, all real professionals will give you at least a ballpark figure as the basis for the final bill. Also, don’t trust ads with cheap deals. For example, if you see $15 in an ad, you should know that you will pay it for the service call only. Many scammers will charge you from $200 to $500 and even more. That is why it is so important to get an approximate figure before a technician actually starts opening the lock.
2. No proper identification, no license, suspicious service car
Next, if a locksmith is at your door at last (legitimate professionals arrive quickly, rogues may take up to two hours to get to your place), ask them to show you their ID and a copy of their license or the license number of their business, which should also be displayed on their service vehicle. The vehicle must be branded in accordance with the company the locksmith claims they are employed by. If it is just a personal vehicle with no brand name indicated, it should raise suspicions. Removable magnetic signs on the van should put you on the alert, too. They can be easily switched for something else, possibly as part of another illegal scheme. Finally, a reputable locksmith usually wears a uniform with the company logo.
3. Excuses. Drilling
The main aim of a scam is to fish out as much money from clients as possible. So, crooks will try to find all kinds of excuses to get what they want. “Your lock is too old. That will cost you more”. “Your lock has an intricate mechanism. That will cost you more.” Also, if you hear from the locksmith that the only way to open the lock is to drill it out, you should know: That is not true. A professional locksmith worthy of its name will pick any lock without having to use a drill. The most probable reason why a scammer may require drilling is because they want to install low-quality hardware and make you pay an exorbitant sum for that. Bottom line: Never let a locksmith drill your lock.
4. No official invoice
After the work is finished, a reputable locksmith should give you a detailed invoice on an official company form. It must list every operation that has been performed along with the exact amount you need to pay. If something comes up later, you may always refer to this document. A con will not provide that kind of invoice for you since their goal, as already mentioned, is to get you confused and take more money from you.
5. Scammers demand cash
Finally, you should know that every respectable locksmith service accepts cards. If a technician asks you for cash and won’t listen to your requests to pay by credit card, that is a clear sign of scam. When you pay by card, your payment can be traced. That is exactly what rogues fear. You should never give cash to a technician.
Finding a trustworthy locksmith is extremely important since your home security is at stake. We recommend beginning a search for a suitable professional service as soon as you have moved in. Even if you have no locksmith’s contact number in your cell phone, though, you may watch for the signs described above in order to avoid crooks who care nothing about you and are only interested in your money.